The consistent internationalization of the Willi Elbe Group is progressing more and more from theory to practice. After Nanjing and Kuklén, Valle de Santiago has now been opened as well. In April 2017, the Mexican site was officially inaugurated. Alongside China, Europe and Japan, the so-called NAFTA region ranks as the world's most important center of the automotive industry. For the Willi Elbe Group, a local presence proved to be indispensable with regard to long-term global customer relationships. The company had been considering the decision for several years. After an intensive search for and selection of a good site, everything went pretty fast. The company was founded in December 2015, and just two months later construction work began; the building was occupied in November. Factory release by BMW in February 2017 finally marked another important milestone. The production volume ordered by the Bavarian carmaker includes corrugated pipe steering spindles for models of the 3-series as well as the X3 and X4.
This will involve the site in Spartanburg, USA as well as that in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. For Mercedes-Benz in Aguascalientes, Mexico, steering spindles for the MFA2 platform are also being manufactured. In terms of machinery and human resources, the plant is still in the setup phase. With regard to the machine park, the next project involves a facility for the assembly of commercial-vehicle steering spindles, including steel processing of individual components. The current team is due to grow to around 100 employees within five years.
With regard to hiring of personnel, there are significant differences compared to Europe. For example, it is quite common in Mexico to pay a home visit to applicants before employment. Differences in mentality must not be dismissed, and not only in terms of how spicy the food can be. For example, a binding "now/immediately" – translating the word "ahorita" - can locally mean “up to three weeks”. Nevertheless, intercultural cooperation is not difficult. The locals are very frank and open, and “newcomers", especially Europeans, are usually given a warm and rapid welcome. This is not the only reason for being optimistic about a positive development of the location: Valle de Santiago also has a good infrastructure and an attractive labor market. Photo of the opening ceremony, from left: Representative of the SENDAI Industrial Park Jose Antonio Mejia Granados, German Honorary Consul Monika von Allwörden de Orozco, Alexander Wohak, State Secretary Franco Herrera Sanchez, Mayor Ing. Manuel Granados Guzman, Oliver Schmid.